The not-so prestigious premier league of South African rugby saw poor turnouts in it’s opening week, and this weekend is set to see much of the same.
Rob Wagner, MD of WP Rugby has indicated that the poor attendance figures could be attributed to the poor performances of the Springboks, as well as the fact that none of those players will play Currie Cup rugby in 2006.
“I think that we underestimate the impact that the performance of the national team has on the psyche of the nation. And the three tests thus far haven’t set the nation alight with regards to the performances. Maybe that’s a reason,” the WP Rugby boss told Rugby365 editor Jan de Koning.
The figures really do put this sad story into perspective. The Sharks opening match against the Lions was the only encounter to draw over 10 000 spectators, with 15 180 paying customers attending the game.
In second place was the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Valke match which only attracted 7 492 of the usually impressive Loftus Versveld turnout. In Bloemfontein, 2 000 fans gathered to watch the central derby between the Vodacom Cheetahs and Griquas, whilst the numbers were even worse in Witbank with 2 000 being the official count for the Pumas and Province clash.
The old coastal rivalry is to be resumed tomorrow at Newlands, but Wagner fears that it may no be the big occasion it once was. The unions are said to be planning on budget cuts, as the takings at the gates are no longer sufficient.
“At this point in time, for a typical Currie Cup game, it is not good,” Wagner said. “We haven’t improved on years gone by, despite the fact that we’re in a so-called strength-versus-strength competition,” Wagner said.
“Again one has to ask, is the absence of leading players not the only reason why we have these poor attendance figures?
“”It will be interesting to see how the [rest of the] Currie Cup pans out, particularly from an attendance point of few. It had been a shock, and we’ll see what the crowd attendance is like here [at Newlands] on Saturday.”
By Jon Cardinelli